This case involves a wheelchair-bound woman who was severely injured when her chair toppled over an unmarked step-down inside a casino. The woman was attempting to exit the casino area to enter a restaurant in a lower-traffic area of the casino floor. Unbeknownst to her, there was an unmarked drop between this area of the casino and the restaurant. Upon exiting, the wheelchair slipped over the unmarked step-down causing the woman to be thrown from the chair. The woman broke both legs and her collarbone as a result of the incident. A premise liability expert was sought to opine on the design and safety of casinos and to speak to the industry standards for proper warnings and wheelchair accessibility in such properties.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience with the design and layout of casinos, bars, and/or restaurants.
- 2. Can you speak to proper warnings required for a step down that is not flush with the adjacent walkway?
Expert Witness Response E-007804
I have been a new store opening manager for multiple Fortune 500 companies and high volume independent restaurants. I teach restaurant design and layout in operations management classes in a hospitality program. I have industry experience working at a casino as well. I can speak to warning signs. Warning signs or lighting(string) may be appropriate for a step or curb warnings (ie. “Watch Your Step”). I have reviewed similar cases of situations where signage was needed to avoid an accident, and other slip and fall cases.
Expert Witness Response E-088943
I have 30+ years of experience in the hospitality industry and have opened over 125 bars and restaurants throughout my career. I have helped design and layout over 50 bars and restaurants and have personally completed over 150 safety inspections. Depending on the step down a minimum of a color change (yellow striping), a sign identifying the hazardous area should be in place. Failure to design an alternative walkway could also have been an issue here.